The 2017 CEDS, available on the Prowers County website, offers specific information on county demographics. This includes population and income trends for residents, climate and cultural information and assessments for such areas as housing, education, infrastructure and industry sectors. It’s an analysis which also shows or strengths and weaknesses for economic growth and provides information from which we can gain a better understanding of our community. Here are some basic figures, taken from the information on the Prowers County website.
Prowers County has a population of 11,985, based on a 2017 assessment by SECED. This translates to a population density of almost eight persons per square mile for a land mass of 1,645 square miles. A demographic breakdown of residents shows the White Non-Hispanic population, as of 2015, at 7,257. The Hispanic population numbers at 4,421.
The county’s population peaked in 1950 with over 14,000 residents and the 2010 Census has indicated a 15% decrease since that decade. The steepest drop occurred between 2006 and 2007 for the most recent reading. In the last five years, the population drop has been 4.5%. During that same period, the state’s rose by 5%. The population drop is attributed mostly to job losses combined with an older age group that combines fewer families plus a loss of the college-aged population. The largest population increase in Prowers County comes from the 60-64 year old group, followed by the 65-69 segments, followed by growth in numbers by the 55 to 59 year old group. One economic focus, due to the size of the older age groups, would be an evaluation of general services for them such as health care, assisted living and nursing home facilities.
With the decline of population numbers is data showing poverty in Prowers County is high based against state and national statistics. In 2015, Kids Count reported 61.8% of school aged children qualified for free or reduced lunches compared to 41.8% in the state. 27.9% of children less than 18 years were living in poverty compared to 14.8% in the state. The Census showed that 19.6% of Prowers County Total Population lives in poverty compared to 11.5% in the state and 14.5 in the nation.
Federal programs aimed at alleviating poverty are tracked as transfer payments. In 2015 the payments for every man, woman and child in the county were just over $9,678. 54% of the total transfer payments are from retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security and income maintenance such as SNAP and Medicaid counted for 42% of total payments to every county resident. IN 2014, 17.4% of the population was uninsured compared to 11.7% for Colorado and teen births are at 24 per 1,000 in 2015, compared to Colorado’s which was 19 per 1,000.
The county lags behind both the state and national figures for income. In 2015, average weekly wages as reported by the Colorado Workforce were 38% below the state. The wage for Prowers County was $633 and the State was at $1,042. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports average annual wages for Prowers County in 2015 were 39% below the state with the county annual wages at $32,934 and the state at $54,179.
Affordable housing is a concern in Prowers County as stock has begun to age and deteriorate and the market has not lent itself to supporting new housing starts with any frequency or volume. A large percentage of the population rents versus purchasing nor building new. To purchase an average priced house in Prowers County in 2015, it was estimated a person needed earn a little over $39,360. The median household income was approximately $40,179. Approximately 77% of housing in the county is valued between $50,000 and $150,000 with a median value of $87,400. Almost 90% of rental housing costs between $300 and $1,000.
The fair market rent in 2015 was $582 for a two-bedroom home. To rent at this price, a household in the county must earn $11.06 per hour or $23,280 annually. At 2015 minimum wages it would take 1.3 earners to contribute to the cost of the rent.
The school student body, according to statistics provided by the Colorado Department of Education, has shown a decline in enrollment which follows the general population trend in Prowers County.
The graduation percentage rate for the same schools for the same years is as follows:
Additional information from the study will focus on more positive aspects of living conditions and potential growth for Prowers County communities.
By Russ Baldwin
Filed Under: Agriculture • City of Granada • City of Holly • City of Lamar • City of Wiley • Consumer Issues • County • Economy • Education • Employment • Featured • History • School • Tourism • Transportation • Utilities
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